Making paying for college easier

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2016

From Beaufort County Community College

The crisis of student debt has made headlines this year as students start their careers with an ever-increasing amount of student loans they will have to repay. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the average student leaving East Carolina University has a debt burden of $29,700. Of ECU graduates in 2014, 67 percent carried debt. Choosing a community college such as Beaufort County Community College is one step to getting an affordable education without going into debt.

The average cost of attendance at ECU is $21,100 per year for a student living off campus. For students attending BCCC, the cost of attendance is $12,800 per year.

These numbers include paying for housing, transportation, tuition and fees. Most of our students will qualify for Pell grants depending on their family income. Our average student receives about $5,600 in grants and scholarships, which, unlike student loans, do not have to be repaid. Funds not used for tuition, fees and books can be used toward cost-of-living expenses.

These funds might help pay for the cost of education, but students attending full-time will still have to figure out how to put food on the table and keep a roof over their family’s heads.

One option is having a part-time job, but this can make focusing on college difficult.

Work-study is an alternative to part-time employment. This program provides a valuable opportunity for on-the-job work experience either on campus or off.  Work-study gives students the flexibility to work around their class schedules. As long as students keep their grades up, they can work up to 12 hours per week and collect a monthly paycheck.

A student can expect to make about $400 per month or $3,200 over eight months before taxes.

This program gives students entering the workforce an advantage over students who are coming out of college with no work experience. The program gives students a taste of the expectations of employers when it comes to time management, behavior and team work.

For parents who are paying for childcare while they attend college, BCCC offers financial assistance. This program covers $140 per week per child for up to two children paid directly to the childcare provider. This means that a parent of two can save more than $1,000 a month on childcare.

The BCCC Foundation offers numerous scholarships based on what field of study a student pursues. Scholarships can be received on top of other financial aid. For example, the Shereda Bailey Endowment is available for young nursing students and the Anthony “Tony” A. Capehart Jr. Endowment is available for electrical engineering technology students.

The deadline for all BCCC Foundation scholarships is June 17. Students interested in applying for scholarships will have to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which they can do online or on campus at the Financial Aid Office in Building 9. A FAFSA is also required for the work-study program and childcare assistance. Students can find applications for scholarships at the Foundation’s website or visit the Foundation office in Building 1 on campus. The BCCC Foundation Board of Directors Con Ed Scholarship offers funds for students getting certifications such as a pharmacy technician certificate or a commercial driver’s license.

Students should also research additional scholarships available in the community. Information about these scholarships and state grants is available on BCCC’s financial aid page.

Any additional remaining costs would have to be paid by the student. Last month, BCCC rolled out the new College Funds Installment (CFI) Payment Plan, which allows students to make smaller payments over time. While many students will find it difficult to make a payment of $4,000 at the beginning of the year, most will be able to pay the more manageable $500 monthly payments while they attend classes. For some students, this payment plan can eliminate the need for picking up loans. This program avoids the interest charges that come with student loans.

A combination of these programs can mean that students can enroll in classes and cover their living expense without incurring any debt. Students can start their careers on firmer footing. Instead of sending their new paychecks off for loan payments, they can start building financial security.

For more information, contact Carol Willard, financial aid technician, at or 252-940-6291, or Serena Sullivan, executive director of the BCCC Foundation, at or 252-940-6326.